Category Archives: Ottawa

Affordable Climate Change action, for some

mckennaThis week Environment and Climate Change Minister (and my MP) Catherine McKenna made an announcement, a funding announcement.  Joining her were area MP Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West Nepean) and Mona Fortier (Ottawa Vanier).  The funding provided would allow a grocery store to replace refrigeration and lighting in the store.  What a great idea, there are several local grocery and food operations that are struggling due to the high cost of food transportation and new carbon taxes.

What a coup for that local store to get that funding and an announcement with the Minister!

The store was a Loblaws store and the amount was $12M from the Low Carbon Economy Fund and that money would equal the emissions of 50,000 cars coming off the roads.  This is good funding money, but really, Loblaws? Loblaws not only had huge profits, but in 2017 also was found guilty of a 14-year long bread price fixing scheme. Loblaws Companies Limited had a net profit of $3.4B in 2018.    Minister McKenna could not find a local operation that has maybe 2 or 3 locations?  A small chain of specialty health food stores?  Kardish Foods, for one, comes to mind they are Ottawa local and a good local success story

I think however the number the Minister really wants everyone to focus on is 50,000 – as in the emissions reduction of taking 50K cars off the road.  BUT I argue that we should be looking at numbers like $3.4B in profit and $12M.

On the face of it, this announcement slaps small local stores that struggle with the high cost of hydro to keep lights, freezers and fridges running.  The Liberals could have done themselves a huge favour (and everyone knows they could use it) by making the announcement at a small butcher shop, a local restaurant, a health food store or any other example of a company that doesn’t make a profit of $3.4B.  Bog box chain stores like Loblaws don’t need funding announcements that represent a mere 0.35% of annual profits.

Gifting $12M to Loblaws tells me that Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna has allowed the arrogance of Justin Trudeau and his Liberals to overtake any sense of normalcy she might have had. This announcement shows just how out of touch Trudeau and his team have become. It comes at a cost to Loblaws who have taken a social media hit and it will, if social media posts are to be believed, as many plan to never set foot in a Loblaws store again.

Liberals are saying that the LCEF is an application baesd program, but shouldn’t there be a financial aspect to this?  Should government funding to help those who can afford the type of retrofitting that Loblaws is going to get?  Any funding awarded from this program should benefit those who really wouldbenefit from it. In Ottawa Centre, the riding of Minister McKenna, is home to many small businesses; butcher shops, fish markets, fruit and vegtable stores, business that rely on refridgerators to stay in business.  I am sure that Minister McKenna shops in these stores that are close to her home in Ottawa.

While there’s huge role for the large comglomerates, climate action only works if the small businesses see that they get a buy in and are part of a solution.  In Question Period both the Conservatives and the NDP peppered the Liberals with questions why they were only helping companies that could afford the retrofits without money from the LCEF.

In what has become the Liberals achilles heel, where once they were seen as looking out for every Canadian, now they seem to be looking out for Canadians, but others get helped first.  Its actions like what took place this week that make Justin Trudeau and the Liberals as looking out for the 1% and those looking to stay in the 1%.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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She said He said They said

It seems like ages ago that the first word on a small issue that may or may not have started out of the Prime Ministers Office came out.  Did anyone think seven weeks ago that  we would still be talking about this?  In fact as the timeline extends on what is commonly known as #LavScam or “the thing that Liberals don’t want anyone to talk about” you just have to know there will be more.

The fallout has been emence; three cabinet shuffles, two resignations from cabinet, one Liberal MP is now sits as an independent, one ‘retirement’ and the resignation of the Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister. Then there is the collateral damage; a committee shutdown, an inaudible budget speech, a walkout and 31 hours of voting.  Apparently, even though the Prime Minister and the Liberals on the Justice Committee have all said that the story has been told they neglected to ask the person at the centre of the storm, Jody Wilson-Raybould (JWR) – she has more to say.

The Prime Minister is treating this like a chess match, saying that JWR has used up all her time, 4 hours, when she appeared at the Justice committee a few weeks back.  The problem with that situation is that following her testimony former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts came forward to tell his version of events to the committee.  In fact the Justice committee allowed now retired Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick to comeback to answer to some of JWR’s testimony.

Now that Butts and Wernick have had their chance to reply to JWR, the opposition have been pressing to have JWR back in front of the Justice Committee. They have held up regular proceedings in Parliament, they worked towards having the presentation of the budget delayed and forced a a vote on 257 motions, all spending items, that could – and almost did topple the government.

But wait, what’s this? The Liberals are willing to let JWR and Jane Philpott have their say, but not in a committee but in the House where parliamentary priviledge allows them to say anything without any threat of litigation on what is said.  The issue with this is that the government could and would limit Wilson-Raybould and Philpott’s speaking time and would not allow for questions to prode further into their statements.  This seems to be the message du jour from the Liberals as Judy Sgro and Melanie Joly have come out in favour of this and if this is what the Prime Minister wants expect more from the Liberal Caucus to speak out.

In the meantime Wilson-Raybould has said she will be sending a written statement with details of texts and emails that will further support her initial remarks. She can certainly send to the committee her written submission but I don’t think the Liberal majority on the committee will accept it, remember last week the Liberals forced an end to the study saying they had heard enough – nothing more is needed to be said.

The only thing I can safely say here; this is not going away. Just when you think all this is all done and there can be no more something happens and so far the something has been a misstep from the government. I mean, this is the third post I’ve written on this subject since February 12th, there will be more.

Both sides have called ‘check’ in this match of words and wills, but no one yet can claim “check-mate”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Back to the drawing board

 

After 260+ posts on #RedHeartBlueSign, this is my first sports specific post.

So what precipitated me taking such a step? The Ottawa Senators sell-off at the NHL trade deadline.  Fans are upset that Matt Duschene and Mark Stone were traded leaving a team with no where to go but staying at bottom of the league.  Normally finishing last gives the best shot at the best player in the NHL Draft, but in the case of the Ottawa Senators they traded their 1stRound pick in this years draft to the Colorado Avalache for, wait for it, Matt Duchene. Yep the same Matt Duchene the Senators recently traded.

I am at best a casual fan of the Ottawa Senators, I follow the scores and even have a copy of the Senators schedule posted in my office at work and have this on my bulletin board:

img_20190306_10145145454755248097873620.jpg

As a casual fan, I have asked Billy Morrison, a writer for Full Press Coverage who writes exclusively on the Ottawa Senator.  I asked Billy five questions related to trades, the breakdown of the Lebreton Flats and the future of the Senators in Ottawa.  I’ve edited some of Billy’s responses for length, but they don’t take away from the content

RedHeartBlueSign: What should Senators fans take away from the loss of Duchene and Stone? 

Billy Morrison:On Mar. 1, 2018, Eugene Melnyk penned a letter to Sens fans preparing them to brace for a full scale rebuild. One year later, the loss of Stone, Duchene, and Dzingel before the 2019 NHL trade deadline is still part of the process of dismantling the ‘old’ team. They follow other names of that era who have already left, such as Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, and Derick Brassard. The loss of these players is simply the continuation of the tear down. It is ironic that on Mar. 1, 2019, exactly one year later, the Senators fired head coach Guy Boucher. There is a good chance now that the tear down is nearly over, and the rebuild can officially begin.

RHBS: What are your impressions of what the Senators gained from the trades?

BM: It is always difficult to see skilled and talented players like Karlsson, Stone, Duchene, and Hoffman, amongst others, leave. With that said, GM Pierre Dorion has done a great job negotiating strong assets in return. The Senators are already loaded with prospects like Thomas Chabot, Brady Tkachuk, and Colin White, in addition to many others. That pool just got deeper with the additions of Erik Brannstrom and Vitaly Abramov. On top of their youth movement, the Sens are well stocked with draft picks for the next three NHL entry drafts. In total, Ottawa has at least 15 picks in the first three rounds over the next three years. Senator fans are absolutely allowed to be frustrated from how the last two years have gone for their team. However, they should also be optimistic and excited about this team’s future and it’s potential to be very bright.

RHBS: With the no deal to build a new arena, will Melnyk sell the team, is there a possibility it moves to Quebec City?

BM: If the Arizona Coyotes can survive in the desert all these years, there is zero chance the Ottawa Senators will be leaving the nation’s capital. Furthermore, the NHL fully supports the team remaining in Ottawa. Despite what the home attendance record shows, Ottawa is a strong hockey market. The part about location that makes little sense is having the team based in the far west end of the city. Reaching Kanata from Orleans, Gatineau, or the downtown core can be difficult and very inconvenient at the best of times, never mind in gridlock traffic on a weeknight in the middle of a winter snow storm. For successful businesses, location is everything. With no new arena deal downtown in the foreseeable future, the Senators will remain in Kanata- for now. It is highly likely they will continue their search for a more central location in the city.

RHBS: How long before the Senators are competitive and a playoff team?

BM: Talent is growing quickly in Ottawa. At only 21-years-old, Chabot was already named to his first All Star game. Tkachuk and White have also both been two of the most productive rookies in the NHL this year. Depending on the rate of development, the three-to-five-year timeline set by Melnyk should be accurate. However, five years at this rate seems generous, and may follow the strategic approach of under promising and over delivering. Five years might be playing it safe. Three to four years could be more accurate.

RHBS: What does the future of the Senators mean to you?

BM: The actions of Eugene Melnyk and the Senators have been unprecedented in the history of professional sports. The agony and pain that fans have endured these last two years is next to unbearable. This treatment strains fan relations and tests fan loyalty. With that said, Melnyk and the team have been very transparent about their future direction and intentions since Mar. 1, 2018. There is a plan being implemented, as witnessed by the trades, the stockpiling of assets, the dismissal of the head coach, and the development of prospects. There are also timelines in place (3-5 years) and money that has been verbally committed (Melnyk has said he will be spending to the cap by the time the rebuild is complete). The future of the Senators means integrity and accountability. The talk has been talked. It’s time to walk the walk. So far, Melnyk and the Sens have done what they said they would do one year ago.

Senators fans in Ottawa have had a tough season, and thankfully it is almost over. February was particularly difficult with a record of 3 wins and 11 losses.  I think I could handle a rebuild if it seems that the owner is sincere about spending the money “it takes” to have a team of championship caliber, the coaching is patient but firm in expecting the best performance of each player every time they hit the ice.

The next phase of the rebuild will be the NHL Draft taking place in Vancouver June 21 & 22, 2019.  I await the results of the draft and the commentary Billy Morrison would have on  the picks GM Dorion and his team settle on.

Until then it’s a very subtle #gosensgo

You can read more from Billy at Full Press Coverage

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

From the Gallery: #BlameBrison

Brison ResignsOn February 6, 2019 in the House of Commons former President of the Treasury Scott Brison said “thank you and miss me, but don’t forget me”.  A few days later Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a media scrum “if Scott Brison had not  stepped down from cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould would still be Minister of Justice and Attorney General.”   This is the beginning of what is being known as #BlameBrison.

#BlameBrison has caused the following moves; Minister Philpott from Indigenous Services  to fill the desk emptied by Brison at Treasury Board, Seamus O’Regan was moved to Indigenous Services and the now infamous move of Wilson-Raybould to Veterans Affairs and the move out of left field from the back benches of David Lametti to Justice Minister and Attorney General.  Trudeau also added one more Minister to his cabinet, bringing another back bencher forward, Bernadette Jordan into the role of Minister of Rural Economic Development.

Watching all this from the gallery, the strangest move was not Wilson-Raybould, it was moving O’Regan; Veterans Affairs  Canada (VAC) is not a slouch file and needs a Minister that will stand up for our Veterans. Bold promises by Trudeau in 2015 have been followed by Ministers, until Wilson-Raybould was appointed last month that were weak and did not perform well. I wish someone could tell me just what it is that Minister O’Regan did in 18 months in VAC to warrant a move to Indigenous Services, a file in which Trudeau’s entire claim of reconciliation is dependent on.

If Trudeau is in fact correct and Wilson-Raybould could still be the AG and Minister of Justice, there would only have been one seat fill when Scott Brison resigned. Now the move of Minister Pilpott to Treasury takes a solid cabinet minister to a key portfolio. That leaves only one person to move to replace Philpott and maintain the work being done on reconciliation. One person was more than qualified for the position and more qualified than Seamus O’Regan, Dan Vandel the Parliamentary Secretary who served under Minister Philpott.  Vandel has the experience in the Indigenous Services portfolio and also has worked with First Nations communities in Winnipeg.  Trudeau makes that one move and quite possibly Trudeau and PMO only has to worry about the Mark Norman Case where it’s expected Brison will be called to testify.

The 400 words above make sense if the following doesn’t happen.  SNC Lavalin had not spent years lobbying for a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a criminal trial. A remediation clause for the criminal code wasn’t buried in a budget omnibus bill.  The allegations of PMO putting pressure of Wilson-Raybould were not published by the Globe and Mail. The Standing Committee on Justice was not a sideshow circus of a committee meeting, and as of today (February 18, 2019) Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary for the Prime Minister would not have resigned. Unfortunately all these events did take place, and the Prime Minister shuffled four Ministers to cover one resignation.  In the space of ten days, Minister Wilson-Raybould  resigned from Cabinet, Trudeau has told three versions of the reasons for the Wilson-Raybould move to VAC; The Ethic Commissioner announced an examination of the SNC Lavalin persuasion allegations and Liberals controlled the Special Justice Committee agenda.

Welcome to the Brison Effect. #BlameBrison

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Remediation Obstruction Instruction?

There is something significant happening in Ottawa now and it is not insignificant and it could cost the Liberals the election. It is not insignificant because its happened before.  What occurred to Stephen Harper in 2015 seems likely to happen to Justin Trudeau in 2019.  Actions taken by the government of the day are going to play out in court and in social media and an election.

In 2015 it seemed the Harper government was on trial, though it was really Mike Duffy.  The trial was about what was said and approved for Senators appointed by the Harper government.  It played out during an election campaign and everyone attention to it.  Flash ahead to 2019, Justin Trudeau and his government are going to be dividing there time, as Harper did, between campaign communications and daily rebuttals about a potentially damaging court case.

Mike Duffy walked into court everyday, hounded by reporters but never answering a question, he was the face of everyone who was looking for a reason to vote against Stephen Harper (there were other reasons of course). Now,  just weeks before the federal election starts Vice Admiral Mark Norman will walk in to a courtroom everyday.  Wearing his uniform he will be the face many believe is the victim of a government’s interference.

Cabinet Ministers will be testifying, the former President of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison will likely be called when the case goes to trial.  Right now the case for the defense of Mark Norman is playing out with a battle for documents.  Brian Platt, a reporter for the National Post, has been laying out just how far the defence believes the government has gone to prevent key documents from being made available.  Platt’s twitter feed is full of the defence vs the prosecution in a case of breach of trust that involves military shipbuilding against the Vice-Admiral.

So far the case has been intriguing to the opposition and people who thrive in a political bubble.  The bubble will burst in late July and August when the case is expected to be heard.  You just know the opposition parties, especially the Conservatives will be playing up the angle of  “interference of the government”.

While a singlular but not insignificant situation can be enough for a government to handle in an election, a second leaves the election war room wishing days had an extra 6 hours.  While the Liberals have to worry about what is perceived by the voters in the Norman case, there is another worry for them.

It’s only been five days, but seems like an eternity since Globe and Mail reporter Robert Fife broke the news on February 7th of alleged influence being applied to former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to allow a plea deal and fine to SNC Lavalin rather that go to court.  For most Canadians this will all be new – the US and the UK have laws that permit applications for remediation.  Canada only adopted such a law this year in Bill C-74, a Budget Bill.  Liberals buried an “out” in the criminal code to address corporate crime in a bill that was meant to implement government spending.  It’s allegations are not before the courts…but will be examined by the Ethics Commissioner and the Justice Committee, which is controlled by a majority of Liberal MPs, which will be discussing the need for the public inquiry to investigate the allegation.

Significant events shape how voters respond in the fall election.  These are not insignificant events.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker &  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

 

Meehan vs. The Mayor

  jim watson

A couple of weeks back Carol Anne Meehan, the rookie Gloucester – South Nepean Councillor made waves because she questioned the Mayor’s decision NOT to allow her to bring a staff person into a one-on-one budget discussion that Mayor Watson was having with her as part of his pre-budget discussions. These are, I imagine, largely informal discussions where the Mayor expects to hear the 3 or so budget concerns from each ward.

Ms. Meehan is a new councillor and very likely she’s still getting up to speed on the many ways Ottawa City Council operates, the committees, procedures and governance as the ward representative.

I don’t know how long these meetings are meant to last, what expectations the councillor should have of the Mayor in the meetings.  There might even be a bit of confidentiality to the meetings.  One person that might know is Mike Patton,  he worked in the Mayors’s office when Larry O’Brien was Mayor of Ottawa and now Mike is working for Councillor Meahan.  Patton is going to be of great assistance to Meahan as he’ll be able guide her through the machinery of City Hall.  But does that make her more comfortable in her role? 

Councillor Meehan had a request, have a staff person join her in the meeting to take notes.  Meehan will not be the elected official to have a staff person take notes in meeting but this is not one meeting she will be able to. Ottawa, a city that has 338 elected officials around the corner on Parliament Hill is all about notes being taken in a meeting by staff.  An elected official bringing a staff person to take notes in a meeting is not a strange occurance, it happens all the time, everyday.

There could be more than meets the eye on this; the Mayor may be posturing a bit.  I doubt that the Mayor and Mike Patton get along that well.  Patton, who worked for the previous Mayor of Ottawa is now working for a new Councillor. Patton up until the Ottawa elections posted a daily video challenging the mayor on issues facing City Hall.  If it would be Patton coming into the meetings, Jim Watson would not be so happy.

A few people have commented online that if Meehan doesn’t know the top three issues from her ward she doesn’t deserve to be there.  Meehan has not had the smoothest start of the rookie Councillors, but her calling out the Mayor for not allowing her to have someone take notes for her seems fair. Next year she may not need that staff person there but this is her first budget in her first year of her four year term. I find nothing wrong with her making sure she has the information she needs to do her job however she needs to get it.

If this is any indication, this could be first of a few flaming arrows that Meehan will be firing in the direction of the Mayor.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Save the Dates

The New Year is a clean slate, nothing held over from the previous 365 days. It begs the question, what is coming our way that we should be bookmarking as key milestones this year?

February 2019: 4 Federal By-elections will be called for February 2019,   there should be 5 by-elections called this month, the Quebec riding of St. Leonard – St Michel has not been represented in the house for month. The only reason for it not being called is that it will be officially vacated January 22nd, nine months before the next general elections, by Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio. The Prime Minister is not obliged to call a by-election for a riding that is vacant 9 months or less before the next general election.  The by-election all of Canada will be watching is Burnaby South BC, it’s where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will be tagging his hopes to win a seat in the House of Commons. Early prognications are not good for Singh.  If he loses what happens to the NDP under his leadership? Other ridings up for grabs are York Simcoe, formerly held by Conservative Peter Van Loan, Outremont which was the home of former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and a second in BC, Nanaimo Ladysmith vacated by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson to run in the same riding in a provincial by-election. At the time of writing this, no date had been announced by the Prime Minister for byelections.

October 21, 2019: This will go one way or another, you either support the government or you don’t and plan to vote that way.  The subtext of this election is more interesting and diverse.  Is Trudeau doing well?  Is he not?  It has not been a smooth four years.  Two key promises have been broken; despite what Trudeau said, this election WILL be decided under ‘first past the post’ and rather than small meaningful deficits and a one balanced budget there will be huge deficits and no balanced budget for 40 years. Will Justin Trudeau remain a one-term Prime Minister because of these broken promises or will he hold on in spite of them?  As MP’s get set to return to Ottawa the polls are close between the Liberals and Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives, this will be an important session for both as leaders will need to score “points” if they want to be Prime Minister. As the election gets close, has the anti-Harper vote been eclipsed but the “I voted Liberal, but didn’t vote for this” vote? 

March/April 2019: Ontario 2019 Budget will be the first budget from Doug Ford and will build on the November Fall economic statement delivered by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli.  The new Ontario government made may promises about reducing the debt and being responsble in spending.  This budget could be influenced by the promised line by line audit of government spending.  The Ford government has already announced cuts in programs that were brought in under Kathleen Wynne.  Notable were announcements include the end of the Gauarranteed income project, pausing the Francophone University spending and freezing the minimum wage at $14/hour. What Minister Fedeli will introduce will likely shock the NDP and Liberals, but it shouldn’t – the Ontario PC’s campaigned on reversing the out of control spending of the Wynne government.

Before or on May 31, 2019: The Alberta Provincial Election outcome seems to be pre-determined.  A NDP government elected four years ago was a blip on the Albertan polictical scene. It happened because the Alberta PC was too comfortable, an outcome that many governments have had to face.  Under a new leader and a new banner, Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party seem primed to wrestle the reigns of power back from the NDP.   The lone question may be, what capital has Premier Notley earned in her defense of building pipelines and moving Alberta crude to market?  What kind of election result will that give the Alberta NDP? June 1stor the day after the election will be a pivotal day for not only Alberta, but also Canada, Justin Trudeau’s Canada.  With a likely victory by the UCP, Alberta will become the 5thprovince to opt out of the Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, and eliminate the provincial carbon tax.

Mark the dates on your calendar and watch the events unfold.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net